Fresh Tomato Pasta Salad

This is so fresh and so clean it should be an Outcast song. Ok I’m sorry, but it really is great.

The tomatoes are in season and just so sweet and juicy. They were the reason this dish became an idea, and I’m so glad that it did. The little mozzarella balls are light, soft, and pick up the lemon flavor of the dressing so well. Put it all together with fresh basil and homemade lemon salad dressing, and you’ve really got a winner.

Even our three year old ate an entire bowl for dinner! Of course at first he informed us that he did not like cheese in balls, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about the rainbow of tomatoes. However, after thirty minutes and some early bedtime threats he gave them a try. Needless to say he’s now a big fan of cheese balls and orange tomatoes.

It’s such a flavorful dish to be so nice and light, but the thing that really makes it worth a try is how unbelievably simple it is to make!

Fresh Tomato Pasta Salad Recipe


  • 12oz mini shells pasta (or whatever shape you like)
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella balls
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


Step 1
Start by boiling the pasta so it won't be so hot that it melts your cheese balls.

The only tip I have for boiling pasta is to make sure that you really season the water with plenty of salt. Apart from that, it's just a matter of cooking the noodles to your personal preference. We don't do al dente in my house. I cooked these shells for exactly 10 minutes, drained them, and then let them cool off and wait for the rest of the gang.
Step 2
Here's the inspiration for this dish.
Step 3
I saw them in the store and had to figure out a way to use them.

Aren't they beautiful?

The only things they need are to be rinsed, de-stemmed, and sliced in half.
Step 4
I decided on these soft little balls of mozzarella to match the shape of the tomatoes.
Step 5
I felt bad doing it since they seem so perfect, but I chopped them in half as well. Who am I kidding? Slicing those soft little suckers was extremely gratifying!

I used a whole package of fresh basil. You know the little plastic rectangles of fresh herbs that hang up in produce? One of those minus a few of the smallest, cutest leaves held back for garnish... cause I'm a priss that way.
Step 6
Slice the pile of leaves into thin strips. Then chop the strips into a pile of herby bits that looks like this.
Step 7
In a large bowl dump the shells, tomatoes, cheese balls, and basil.
Step 8
While the rest of your salad waits in the bowl, make the dressing.

Start by zesting some lemons, and always remember to scrape off all the good stuff on the back of your zester!
Step 9
My lemons were really small today, so it took three whole lemons to barely get a tablespoon of zest.
Step 10
Squeeze your lemons directly over your liquid measuring cup to know exactly how much you're getting. It took two and a half of my little guys to get the 1/4c. of juice I needed.
Step 11
Pour the olive oil right on top of the juice.
Step 12
Next add in the salt, pepper, and zest.
Step 13
Give it all a good stir with one of your measuring spoons. Why dirty another dish?
Step 14
Pour the lemon dressing over your bowl of fresh colors,
Step 15
and give everything a toss.
Step 16
This pasta salad is so fresh and light! It's just the perfect summer side dish to any meal.
Step 17
Please add this to your next summer picnic while these delicious tomatoes are in season!
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